Bariatric surgery saves money and prolongs lives

May 17, 2018, Medical University of Vienna
Credit: Medical University of Vienna

There are more than 670 million people worldwide who are obese – with serious consequences for themselves and an enormous cost to the healthcare system. A recent MedUni Vienna study, conducted jointly with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Economic Research (Evelyn Walter) and the Austrian Society of Bariatric Surgery and led by Gerhard Prager (Department of Surgery), shows that bariatric surgery, such as a gastric bypass, for example, not only saves a lot of money but also improves quality-of-life and extends life expectancy. On 26 May 2018, there will be an action day for obesity patients and interested parties in MedUni Vienna's Lecture Center in Vienna General Hospital.

If left untreated, morbid obesity leads to many secondary diseases such as diabetes, , fatty liver or hyperlipidaemia (a generally elevated blood concentration of cholesterol and triglycerides). In the current study, accurate calculations have now shown that a metabolic surgical intervention, performed at the right time, can save a lot of money and suffering. "We calculated what would happen in 20 years time, if this intervention were not made, the costs that obese patients would save and their gain in terms of extended ," explains Prager, who is also Head of the Obesity Outpatient Clinic in Vienna General Hospital.

The main findings: the saving is €24,600 per patient in costs associated with the condition. Every patient who has developed diabetes over these 20 years gains an extra 3.7 years of life; every patient who has developed cardiovascular disease gains an extra 3.4 years of life; every patient who has developed fatty liver gains an extra 3.7 years of life; and patients who have developed hyperlipidaemia over these 20 years approximately an extra year of life.

People are considered obese when they have a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 30 but the Health Insurance Fund will only fund the cost of the operation from a BMI of 35, plus a diagnosis of diabetes (without diabetes from a BMI of 40 kg/m2). The MedUni Vienna experts would like to see the Swiss protocol applied in Austria: there the Health Insurance Fund will pay from a BMI of 35 upwards without any further conditions being imposed. Around 400 such operations are carried out each year at the Department of Surgery of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital, whereas twice this number would be desirable, says Prager. Throughout the whole of Austria, 3,500 such interventions are performed each year, in Switzerland this number is 6,000.

Says Prager: "This will save our healthcare system a great deal of money. Not least because it will mean far fewer patients go on to ultimately develop cancer – and this applies to women in particular."

The operation has been shown to have lasting beneficial consequences: "Our studies show that the long-term effects make the most effective treatment for more severe obesity. Even ten years on from the operation, most are considerably lighter than they were before it."

Explore further: Weight-loss surgery improves lives and saves money

Related Stories

Weight-loss surgery improves lives and saves money

April 19, 2018
A new BJS (British Journal of Surgery) study indicates that weight-loss surgery is cost-effective over 10 years and can save healthcare systems money over a lifetime. Researchers used a decision-analytic model to come to ...

Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are comparable for morbid obesity treatment

January 17, 2018
In Switzerland, 5,500 operations to combat morbid obesity are conducted every year. Gastric bypasses and sleeve gastrectomy operations perform similarly: patients lose two-thirds of their excess weight in the long term, as ...

No benefit from surgery prior to drug treatment for metastasised breast cancer

June 8, 2017
A new study from the ABCSG (Austrian Breast & Colorectal Cancer Study Group) indicates that women suffering from metastasised breast cancer do not benefit from surgery performed prior to drug treatment. This could cause a ...

Bariatric surgery found to reduce future health care costs

November 5, 2015
(HealthDay)—Gastric bypass surgery may save health care dollars down the road, a new study suggests. The findings were scheduled to be presented at ObesityWeek 2015, a meeting hosted by the American Society for Metabolic ...

Bariatric surgery may reduce life expectancy for super obese diabetic patients

February 4, 2015
Bariatric surgery improves life expectancy for many obese diabetic patients, but it may cut life expectancy for patients who are super obese with very high body mass indexes, according to a University of Cincinnati researcher.

New treatment for chronic throat irritation and globus sensation in the gullet

September 25, 2017
Chronic throat irritation, a permanent globus sensation, and a sore or dry sensation in the throat are common symptoms often trivialised and wrongly attributed to gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, these are also the ...

Recommended for you

Amount of weight regain after bariatric surgery helps predict health risks

October 16, 2018
Measuring the percentage of weight regained following the maximum amount of weight lost after bariatric surgery can help predict a patient's risk of several serious health problems, according to a long-term, multicenter study ...

Technique to 'listen' to a patient's brain during tumour surgery

October 16, 2018
Surgeons could soon eavesdrop on a patient's brain activity during surgery to remove their brain tumour, helping improve the accuracy of the operation and reduce the risk of impairing brain function.

Researchers link gut bacteria to heart transplant success or failure

October 4, 2018
In a new study, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have found that the gut microbiome appears to play a key role in how well the body accepts a transplanted heart. The scientists found a ...

Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

October 1, 2018
People sometimes mistakenly think of general anesthesia as just a really deep sleep but in fact, anesthesia is really four brain states—unconsciousness, amnesia, immobility and suppression of the body's damage sensing response, ...

Bariatric surgery linked to safer childbirth for the mother

September 27, 2018
Obese mothers who lose weight through bariatric surgery can have safer deliveries. The positive effects are many, including fewer caesarean sections, infections, tears and haemorrhages, and fewer cases of post-term delivery ...

Antibiotics for appendicitis? Surgery often not needed

September 25, 2018
When emergency tests showed the telltale right-sided pain in Heather VanDusen's abdomen was appendicitis, she figured she'd be quickly wheeled into surgery. But doctors offered her the option of antibiotics instead.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.